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    The first three months in a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Whether you’re entering the workforce as an assistant or as a senior leader, you’ll want to make a strong first impression.  It’s a time to start fresh, with new opportunities and challenges.

    Whatever the job, here are a few guiding principles for you, based on my many years as a leader in government. I especially encourage new Federal employees to take these tips to heart as you learn to navigate the public-sector landscape.

    • Listen, Listen, Listen: On that first day of a new job, you’re going to be the newest person in the room. It’s crucial that you listen – not only for the information you’ll need to do your job, but so that you can learn about the office dynamics and culture. You have to respect the environment that you enter. And listening is key.
    • Respect Your New Coworkers: Sometimes people start a new job believing they know more than the current employees. But especially in the Federal workforce, many of your new colleagues will have been there for a long time. They have dedicated themselves to service and often they are experts in their fields. So be respectful and be willing to learn from your coworkers. They probably have a lot to share. Giving them that respect will help make everyone more successful.
    • Spend A Lot of Time Learning: It’s inevitable that during your first weeks on the job, you will have to absorb a lot of information. It can be overwhelming. Give yourself time to digest everything. It’s important to know what you don’t know. So ask questions and do your homework. The quality of your work is more important than the quantity.
    • Identify a Mentor Early On: Quickly identify someone in your office who can be a mentor to you as you adjust to your new responsibilities and environment. A mentor can help you understand the new culture and the corporate practices. He or she can help you translate terms and policies unique to your new office. And, most importantly, the assistance you will get from a mentor will help you become a good team member.

    Your first 90 days on a job is the time to show what you’re made of and to prepare your path for the future. So listen, learn, and follow the advice of a mentor. Whether your new job is making copies or analyzing policy, success is about how you handle the work you are given and the commitment you show to the job and the mission. If you take that to heart you will go far.

    Federal employees meet in a conference room with a laptop computer.

    On May 30, 2014, President Obama called on Americans from all walks of life to get involved in My Brother’s Keeper by signing a pledge to become long-term mentors to young people. The value of mentorship is clear – sustained and direct mentoring relationships play a vital role in the lives of young people. The President firmly believes that it is important for all children to have caring adults engaged in their lives. Mentoring a young person can make a great difference.

    The My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce was established on February 27 when the President issued a Memorandum designed to “Create and Expand Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color.” The taskforce’s 90-Day Report to the President prominently featured the role of mentoring.

    As the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I know how incredibly engaged and involved Federal employees are in our communities. From “Feds Feed Families” to the “Combined Federal Campaign,” you demonstrate every day that you are not only the backbone of the Federal government, but also leaders.

    This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Federal employees at a training program hosted by the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  As I told our colleagues at SAIGE, Federal workers have a noble purpose - the work that you do every day is purpose driven. Unlike private industry, it’s not about the bottom line. It’s about the top line of public service.

    As I travel around the country speaking with Federal employees, I am struck by that commitment to service. From Washington, D.C. to Albuquerque, to Brownsville, Tex. to Boyers, Pa., Federal employees show up to work every day and make a difference in the lives of their fellow Americans.

    As we approach Father’s Day on Sunday, I urge all of you to once again lead by example and embrace the President’s call to mentor young people. I know that many of you are already mentors in your community. For others, this may be just the motivation you need to get out there and make a difference in a young person’s life.

    Please visit the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper website and sign the pledge to be a mentor today!

    And Happy Father’s Day!


    January is National Mentoring Month and it’s a perfect time to spread the word about the values and possibilities of mentoring and celebrate the Federal workers who take the time to teach, inspire and help guide their colleagues in their careers.

    Throughout the Federal government, agencies are finding innovative ways to foster the goals of National Mentoring Month, which are embodied in the President’s proclamation: “America is at its best when we lift each other up, when we pursue our individual goals while never forgetting that we are bound as one nation and as one people…”

    I know I have been fortunate to have wonderful mentors along the way in my career and hope that colleagues whose lives I’ve touched have benefitted from my mentoring.

    At OPM, we are convening a roundtable discussion next week for employees to share their experiences and backgrounds and hopefully meet someone they can mentor or who can mentor them.

    The governmentwide Flash Mentoring Program, which the Chief Human Capital Officers Council coordinates, has provided opportunities and programs at agencies throughout the government to help employees get tips on mentoring and to learn about the benefits of mentoring. In fact, a Flash Mentoring session is scheduled for next week at the Department of Education.

    Since the Flash Mentoring Program’s first session in the fall of 2011, more than 600 federal workers have been mentored by more than 100 mentors and 27 agencies have participated in mentoring sessions.

    But mentoring doesn’t require a formal program. Look around you. Find someone who you believe can help you develop your career, someone who may have a skills expertise that you would like to acquire. And look for someone who you can help reach his or her potential, who you can partner with and coach.

    The President’s goal is to create a culture of mentorship throughout the Federal government. Let’s start now during National Mentoring Month and keep going during the year. Let’s make mentoring a way of life throughout this great Federal workforce.


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